Hidden 14 days ago Post by Abefroeman
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Abefroeman Truck Driver

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Jump Gate Entry Point, Nyrene Terius, 0030 Local Time. Royal Orleans Diplomatic Escort Flotilla - Foreign Embassy Detachment.


Far above the glittering orb of Nyrene Terius, a small flotilla returned to real space from the dulled blues of Jump Gate travel. One by one, a total of seven ships came into full view and sensor detection of any and all who were watching. Three Cerf-Class Frigates, R.O.N. Requin, Taureau, and Vache, two R.O.N. Aventurier-Class Destroyers, Chien and Thon, and in the center of these escorts, a modified Epaisse-Class Armored Cargo ship, proudly adorned in the colors of the Royal Orleans Ambassadorial Ministry. Their engines spun up, pushing them forward and away from the gateway, out of the entry and exit arc that ingoing and outgoing travel had to make use of.

Broadcast over an open channel, a lightly accented voice spoke in Eden-Basic, addressing any military or civilian vessels of the Councillary Confederation in the area who perhaps had taken notice of their recent arrival and new presence. "This is Capitaine de frégate Beaulieu of the Kingdom of Nouvelle. We are formally announcing our presence in accordance with Interstellar Eden Accords, Statute 13.7. We will be in orbit above Nyrene Terius for the duration of time it shall take to remove all Orleans diplomatic personnel and property from the ground side of Nyrene Terius. Such actions for the formally removal and cessation of embassy operations upon Nyrene Terius shall take no longer than seventy-six standard hours. In accordance to Clause 5 of Statue 13.7, we formally state that we shall not submit to any inspections, boardings, or detainments of Orleans naval vessels or personnel. Any attempt to impede our actions will be seen as a breach of interstellar law, and such breaches will been as an act of aggression against the Kingdom of Orleans. We are formally and decisively withdraw all diplomatic presence from this region of space and once our endeavor is complete, shall turn over control of the vacated embassy complex to the provisional government of Nyrene Terius. Beaulieu out." The communique was finished, and the open broadcast ended. Nodding to the helmsman, a message was sent out over an encrypted channel to signal forward movement to the flotilla, the gathered ships slowly but decidedly making way to orbit above Nyrene Terius.
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Hidden 14 days ago 14 days ago Post by Sigma
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Orleans Space
Federation Frontier Station Pathway
Ambassador's Office


"This is a troubling development..." Ambassador Yando Rev said, sifting through several paper reports brought to him. Standing before him were three Intelligence Agents. "Before we lost contact, our listing post on Nyrene had confirmed increased offworld traffic." One of the agents, Carla Ramirez, spoke up. "Soon after Confederation troops landed and took the planet within mere days."

Ambassador Rev tossed the reports aside, leaning forward, his chin resting upon his clasped talons, his eyes drifting down at his sleek desk, he and most of Eden was all too aware of the situation on Nyrene. "This is damn bold of the Confederation." He said, his eyes shifting their gaze at the agents, he sighed heavily as he took a sharp turn with his chair, spinning himself up as he walked towards the ray-shielded window, taking in the serene sight outside. The station Pathway, with the generous, if extremely cautious graces of the King of Orleans, was allowed to orbit a fringe colony world in the far edges of Orleans Space, it was a recent addition, so starship traffic was minimal, allowing the Station's crew to appreciate it's semi-primordial presence.

"What of our people on the ground?" Ambassador Rev asked, turning to face the agents.

"We've haven't heard from them since.." One of the other agents, a Dathu named Laasin spoke grimly, he was around the same age as Ramirez.

"That's troubling..but expected." The Ambassador said. "It seems that our little outreach program will have to be accelerated."

"Agreed, Ambassador." The last of the agents spoke, another human by the name of Ian Zaamil spoke.

"The Confederation's little power grab in the region may stir up quite a storm." The Ambassador paused as he return to his chair, leaning forward. "As you are all have been made aware, the political situation in this part of the frontier is....fragile at the moment."

The trio simply nodded to the Ambassador as he continued.

"Coverage of the Duron Conflict had provided excellent cover for the CCN to enact their plans unimpeded." The agents remain silent, looking to one another briefly. "Which is why I have received clearance from the Chancellor herself to arrange a meeting with representatives of King Reynaud D'Reciet IV."

The three nodded once more in agreement. "What would have us do in the mean time?" Ramirez asked.

"Continue with your assignments in Orleans, monitor the Duron Conflict closely and be on alert." The three saluted and dismissed themselves, leaving the Ambassador to his thoughts as he spun his chair around the look out into the vastness of space.
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Hidden 10 days ago Post by Darkspleen
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Darkspleen I am Spartacus

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Commonwealth Embassy, Duro One


“Get that transport loaded!” Sergeant Ross yelled. “NOW!” The Commonwealth sergeant aimed at figure of a being he could make out in the misty white cloud of tear gas. The rubber bullet he fired struck the being, eliciting a yelp of pain in reply.

“Sarge!” One of his subordinates yelled. “We’re on our last tear gas grenades!”

“How much longer till that transport is loaded?” Ross asked, firing another rubber bullet into the tear gas. The transport in question was a civilian shuttle they had managed to commandeer from a Commonwealth civilian freighter in orbit.

“Sixty seconds!” A second soldier answered.

“Tell those damned fools to hurry!” Ross ordered. They had been under siege ever since the military junta took control of Duro One. At first the Commonwealth embassy guard figured it would die down. When it became clear the situation was only going to get worse they had requested an extraction, which was quickly cleared and transportation was slated to arrive within the week. When it became clear that the rioters were going to give them a week the embassy had requested aid from any Commonwealth ships in orbit. Hence the single shuttle extraction.

“Take cover!” A soldier yelled, following his own advice and diving behind some sandbags as a petrol bomb soared in the air towards him. It fell short, with only a few flames reached the sandbags and quickly sputtering out.

Ross himself was forced to dive for cover when an individual using an assault rifle fired at him from within the tear gas. He could feel the riot ramping up. Soon they would rush the embassy in mass and he wouldn’t be able to hold them back. All he had was two squads, one of which was a militia squad.

“Fire the last of the tear gas grenades!” Ross ordered. Grenade launchers answered him, launching the last of his supply towards the mass of people beyond the embassy. “I am authorizing the use of lethal force. All soldiers are hereby ordered to switch to combat rounds and shoot to kill.” He connected his radio to the embassy’s system to use its loudspeakers to speak to the crowd. “Lethal force will now be used on any individuals who attempt to enter the embassy.”

“The transport is full and lifting off now!” One of Ross’s militia reported. Good. That meant half of the embassy would soon be safe. All he had to do was keep the rioters back for one more load and then he and his men could be extracted too.

He turned to watch the shuttle lift off and start to climb towards orbit. There was a flash of movement - a missile! - and then the shuttle was enveloped in a ball of fire. It would appear that Ross and his men wouldn’t be leaving the embassy any time soon.

Houston, The Free Star Commonwealth


“So let me get this straight,” President Brown said, “we have an embassy under siege, with barely enough soldiers to secure its perimeter during peaceful times, with no means of evacuation on hand, and we have already suffered significant loss of life amongst the embassy staff. Does that about summarize the situation?”

”Um… yes sir.” The secretary of defense answered.

”Please tell me the extraction force has already departed.”

”Well sir it's taking more time then expect to shake loose the ships we need-” The secretary was cut off by the president slamming his fist into his desk.

”Our people are getting killed out there!” He yelled. ”We should have forces there already to protect them!”

”Well yes, but our navy-”

”Why do we even have a navy if its incapable of protecting our people!” Brown took a deep breath to calm himself. ”Pull ships from the defense force here. Anything that can be spared.

”But that’ll leave our defense forces here weakened!”

”Then so be it.” Brown shot back. ”If the relief force doesn’t leave within forty-eight hours I’ll see that you’re held responsible for the loss of every citizen’s life on that damned planet. And if there are any Rangers able to send them too.”

”Yes mister president. Is there anything else I can do?”

”Yes, yes there is. You can hand me your resignation before the end of the day.”

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Hidden 9 days ago 9 days ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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AdorableSaucer Blessed Beekeeper

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Location:
Raygon 8 - Leisure District, aka. New Macau.

BT-Block K221-008-002 “Bolt Avenue” - Nearest security office: 147m.

Security and safety brought to you by Gala-Grid©™ - the galactic standard.



Subject:
George Christian Wellsley, aka. G.C. Willy.

Age: 27 cycles around Raygon 0.

Residence: BT-Block L102-071-010, “Moonlit Gardens” flat 10.

Occupation: Drone Mechanic.




So I ended up taking the job, after all. Shit, I couldn’t believe it either, honestly - not at first. Lil’ ol’ Wellsley, about to take on a motherfucking Gala-Grid drone security station.

Fuck, why am I doing this?!

The debt’s already settled - they called this morning. I haven’t seen Shawn’s guards at all - I’m not being followed. Is it greed? It’s greed, isn’t it? Christ, George, why’re you like this? Is it just to see if you can do it at this point? Are you really that curious?

Alright, alright - calm down, G.C.. Pray to God that you’re not rusty. You’ve got this. You’ve totally got this.

George knuckled his way through the dark, passing behind some sleeping Raygonian bums. A distant cackle broke through the soundscape and George dove for cover.

“Won again, bitches!” the voice continued to a choir of groans. George permitted himself a peek out of the shadows. There, across the street, in the light of an exhausted LED, a Qurok, Raygonian and Putt sat playing some kind of game - George couldn’t quite make it out. To his chagrin, though, he noticed that the way to the drone station was opposite of the group - worse yet, they were sitting in an open street. His eyes scanned the area in desperate search of some manner of cover. The shadows could do, perhaps.

“Bah! Ourm, you’re cheating!”

The putt put a hand on his chest and gasped. “Now, now - I’m a businessman, mr. Hippi, but cheat? You’re woundin’ me, man.”

The Raygonian presumably known as Mr. Hippi’s fist hammered the tabletop. “I JUST drew that card! How do you have it?” Ourm shrugged.

“I didn’t do anything, though! Jerry, did you see me do anything?”

The Qurok growled a deep ‘no’. The Putt gestured to him. “See?”

“Shut up, Jerry, you’re losing anyway!”

‘Oh’, was all the response Jerry could muster, looking somberly down at his cards. All of a sudden, there came the bang of metal. All three of them turned towards the sound.

“Who’s there?” Mr. Hippi spat. He rose from his chair and grabbed a bat he had hidden under the table; Ourm unholstered a rusty pistol; Jerry flexed and unflexed his fingers, on which he clearly had been wearing knuckle irons. “Come on out!” Mr. Hippi called again and golfed a rusty can into a distant wall.

“Under there,” Ourm snapped and fired a shot. It ricocheted off the reinforced concrete behind a pile of garbage and scrap, illiciting a panicked ‘ook’. A shadow knuckled its way out from behind the garbage, tailed by a few more shots. “A god damn Simmie, holy moley.”

“You’re a shit fucking shot, Ourm,” Mr. Hippi muttered.

“Hey, it’s not like I use this thing that often.” They looked at one another. “Should we go after it?” Ourm asked.

‘Hungry,’ Jerry growled.

“Yeah, I’m with Jerry on this one, and you have all our money. I could go for a bite or two.”

“Jesus, guys, we’re not actually going to eat him?”

“No, jackass, we’re robbing him so we can get something to eat, duh!”

Jerry hung his head. ‘Oh.’

Both Ourm and Mr. Hippi frowned at him. “Alright, calm down, big guy. HappyBurger will have to do, alright? We, we don’t eat people.”

‘Ok…’

“Well, should we, y’know, give chase?”

“Yeah, sure.”




George had no idea how long he had been running - all he knew was that he had already passed the drone station by a long shot. He’d have to go back, and that meant sneaking past his pursuers. Christ, today of all days. Would they believe him if he said he had no money? Doubt they would.

“Come ooooout! My boys are starving, man - have some compassion and give us your money. We’ll tone down the pain if you do it right now. The longer you wait, though…” Another clang as a brick struck the very same garbage container George was hiding behind, causing him to freeze up. “... The worse it’ll be for you.”

The rip of thin plastic and subsequent cacophony of diverse falling garbage filled the soundscape, followed by two groans and a sigh. “God damn it, Jerry, look what you’ve done to yourself!”

‘Bag was older than I thought…’

“That’s always the case, though,” Ourm explained. “Nobody double bags down here. Jesus Christ, you smell even worse now.”

“We’ll pitch in. Get you a shower later, okay? This monkey better be fucking loaded.”

George’s quivering hands slowly reached down into his pocket, from where they extracted a butterfly knife. As quietly as he could, he locked it into blade mode and drew a number of panicked gasps through his teeth, praying to whatever deity was out there that they wouldn’t hear his heart jumping out of his chest.

“Oh shit.”

George held his breath.

“Yo, what’s up?”

“Sshh! Bobby incomin’.”

George’s eyes widened.

“A bobby? Fuck, of course it’d show up right now. A’ight, spread out, look busy.”

The rustle of plastic and floored garbage indicated his three pursuers went to hide or disguise themselves as upstanding citizens not in the middle of robbing someone. Sure enough, the rustling was soon drowned out by the slow, metallic clanks of robotic feet stepping through the street. Some more fierce whispering jumped between the three, sounding specifically aimed at the Qurok for some reason.

“CITIZEN. IDENTIFY YOURSELF.”

Oh, that was why.

“Uhm,” Jerry rumbled. “J-Jerry Lokamopolous Ruip III - citizen number, uh… “

“JERRY LOKAMOPOLOUS RUIP ONE-ONE-ONE.
CITIZEN NUMBER: BTC-051-143-223-768-132.
RESIDENCE: BT-BLOCK Y001-902-333.
OCCUPATION: UNEMPLOYED--”

“Don’t have to rub it in…”

“CRIMINAL RECORD:
  • THEFT: 65 REPORTED CASES.
  • ASSAULT: 13 REPORTED CASES.
  • MURDER: 4 REPORTED CASES.


CURRENT ACTIVITY: LOITERING ON PRIVATE PROPERTY.”

“Private?”

George swallowed and looked around. As far as he could see, there weren’t any signs denoting property ownership. As quietly as he could, he opened his wristband panel, immediately breaking the quiet soundscape in the otherwise largely empty street with deafening ads. He tried as quickly as he could to close the screen down again, but the ads naturally had blockers over the exit buttons for the first five seconds of playing.

“SOUND DETECTED. CITIZEN BTC-051-143-223-768-132, DO YOU HAVE ACCOMPLICES?”

Jerry swallowed. “Nah, must be the ape.” In the distance, George could hear one of Jerry’s friends hushing violently.

“ELABORATE.”

“Chasing an ape,” Jerry muttered. George suddenly noticed a scramble of plastic nearby.

“‘CHASING AN APE’ NOTED IN CONFESSION. VIOLATION OF PRIVATE CITIZEN NAP ADDED TO LIST OF CRIMES. YOUR PUNISHMENT FOR TRANSGRESSING ON PRIVATE PROPERTY IS--”

“Wait, whose property is this?!” came suddenly Ourm’s voice in protest.

“CURRENT LOCATION: BT-BLOCK K221-015-004 “LIPGLOSS LANE”. OWNER: MAGNIFICO COSMETICS INCORPORATED. CITIZEN, IDENTIFY YOURSELF…”

Meanwhile, George was growing increasingly wary of the approaching sound. He tried to slide further away along the garbage contained, but shortly thereafter, he saw a thick fist grab onto the side of the contained. It pulled to itself a fat, grinning face with tiny, beady eyes.

“Hello, little monkey,” Mr. Hippi murmured sadistically. George choked on a scream and picked up a nearby clump of hardened sludge, chucking it at Mr. Hippi’s face. The Raygonian couldn’t dodge in time and snarled.

“UGH! Fuck, you’re fucking DEAD!” Mr. Hippi roared and began clawing his way towards George through the piles of garbage around them. George, meanwhile tried desperately to scramble to his feet, but found his tracks frozen by the approaching clanks of metal.

“COMMOTION DETECTED. EVERYONE - REMAIN CALM.” A red-coated robot fist the size of George’s whole torso grabbed the garbage contained and turned it over, revealing the Prrp & Sterlington Model 7B “Bobby” Peacekeeper Mech in all its frightening stature. Its thousand glass eyes analysed the scene, one Simmie holding a knife frozen in a crawling pose with a Raygonian grip about one of its feet. Mr. Hippi looked equally terrified.

“ASSAULT DETECTED. CALCULATING PUNISHMENT.”

“Jerry, help me!” Mr. Hippi squealed. The Qurok’s eyes darted around before he suddenly gave the robot a mighty push. The alien’s strength was actually considerable enough to cause the robot to stagger. However, the moment Jerry had shoved it, George saw that it dawned on his face what he had just done.

“Jerry, what the fu--” was all Ourm managed to get out before both he and Jerry were immediately peppered to bloody mush by the Bobby’s shoulder-mounted machine gun. Mr. Hippi drew a hacking gasp.

“G-guys?! GUYS?!”

“ASSAULT ON OFFICER OF THE LAW - PUNISHMENT CALCULATED: EXECUTION.” The machine then turned back to George and Mr. Hippi, only - Mr. Hippi had gone over to check on the mutilated corpses with teary eyes.

“CITIZEN, DO NOT MOVE. MOVING WILL BE CONSIDERED AN ATTEMPT TO FLEE THE CRIME SCENE.”

“Fuck you, Bobby! You killed my, my… Oh, God…”

George, meanwhile, tried to sneak its way up behind the Bobby. By now, the streets were slowly filling up with curious citizens looking for some entertainment.

“EVERYONE - STAY BACK. TO INTERFERE WITH BUSINESS OF THE LAW IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH,” the Bobby droned mercilessly and began stomping over to Mr. Hippi. However, just as it was about to take its first step, it stopped and droned some more, this stuff unintelligible. It stood frozen, and all the spectators eyed it curiously. Mr. Hippi mouthed some silent curses of disbelief. After a moment, a melody played.

“REBOOT COMPLETE. ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS GIVEN TO: USERNAME_CAESAR.”

George hopped out from behind the robot, holding a duct-taped and modified touch pad in his arms. He pointed at Mr. Hippi, whose eyes went wide with realisation, and screamed a loud “YAAAAH!”

“AFFIRMATIVE,” went the Bobby and immediately reduced the Raygonian to a carcass with more holes than Federation Cheese. The crowds, understanding what had just happened, suddenly went screaming for the hills. George took a moment to realise what he had just done, before also realising the attention he had drawn to himself. Without a moment to lose, he knuckled his way back the way he came, his trusty Bobby following along faithfully.




Technically, I did the job perfectly after that. Sure, the original plan was to -sneak- in and hack the place - knock out some circuits, fuck up the charging stations, same old, same old. Still, those three a-assholes put that plan in jeopardy. Like, fuck, I got seen - I’m fucking dead. I had the Bobby level everything - the station, every camera spot along the way. Fuck, was that the right thing to do? Have I drawn more attention to myself?

For all they know, it could’a just been a Bobby that went rogue. Yeah, that’s right. Just a rampant Bobby. Happens all the time, right? Giant robot cops with machine guns and fists that could crush concrete blocks like fuckin’ pop rocks. I made sure to delete the OS, too - can’t be too careful. Anyway, jobs’ done, right? Better lay low until Shawn gets back to me.
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Hidden 6 days ago 6 days ago Post by Sigma
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Peripheral Colony of Aquarius
Orbital Dock 14


Several days had passed since Malcolm's fateful encounter with Agent Severis, enough time to have his own affairs set in order. He and Isana of course couldn't divulge the true details of their mission to the family, all that could be said however, was that they both would be reinstated for one last mission, along with announcing a truly well-deserved retirement to New Eden, much to the pleasure of their children and grandchildren.

-----------------

Malcolm, Isana and the others all sat alone in the troop bay of a razorwing dropship, the four enjoyed some small talk among themselves and with the pilots, exchanging some terrible jokes here and there. Occasionally the would pester Malcolm once or twice about his time in the war with the free stars, but eventually, they had finally arrived. "Commander, we're on approach to Orbital Dock 14." one of the pilots declared, following this, Malcolm stood up and walked over to the cockpit, followed by the others. Malcolm was first to sneak in the cockpit, taking in the view as they drew closer to the installation, the docked Retribution coming into view. Caris let out a loud whistle. "Impressive ship."

"She's a beauty." Giddy said.

The dropship continued its approach, moments passing as they finally entered one of the the Retribution's hanger bays, making its slow descent to the floor, the interior of the ship making a "thump" sensation. "Well Gentlemen." Malcolm spoke. "That's our que."

"Good luck, Commander." One of the pilots said.

"Give those bastards a good beating." The other pilot said.

"Will do." Malcolm said, backing away as he and his crew grabbed their luggage. The loading ramp lowered, the four stepping out into a wide hanger bay, buzzing with life as support staff, engineers and such were going about their duties. "Departure in 0300." The shipwide intercom announced. Malcolm took in the sight, his unit had only ever been on one of these fleet carriers once, and that was back the war.

Not too long after their arrival, the Gravemakers were greeted by a small group. The group was headed by the now former Captain of the Retribution, who extended his hand to Malcolm. "Commander." He begun. "Name's Julian Tanner, formerly captain of this ship, now your second in command."

"Pleasure to meet you Tanner." Malcolm said. "You familiar with my crew?"

"That's right, sir." Julian replied. "The Gravemakers, the banes of the frontier, we hear plenty of old "horror" stories about your exploits."

Isana chuckled a bit." Glad our reputation Precedes us."

"After all the hell we raised in the years, we better!" Giddy joked, letting out his own chuckle.

Julian nodded as he moved aside to let the others introduce themselves. The first among them was a Simmie dressed in an orange jumpsuit, around his neck was an audio translation device. The Simmie oook'd several times before the device sparked to life. "Hiya Bossman." The translator spoke with a distinct Old Earth English accent, no clue what region though. "Names Alex Turner, Chief Engineer of this 'here girl." Another stepped forward, a tall, well-built young man, he stood at attention and saluted to the Commander specifically. “Colonel Xavier Sanders, sir!” He declared. “1st Joint Ground Operations Detachment and chief of security.” Colonel Sanders stood back as he allowed an older woman in a medical uniform to step forward, shook hands with each one of the Gravemakers. “Dr. Tamala Hoshi at your service. First Medical Officer of the Retribution.”

“Hmm, a pleasure, doctor.” Carris winked at the doctor with a sly grin. She simply smiled it off. Ending the brief awkward moment was the sudden introduction of another recent group of arrivals. A young woman dressed in a blue uniform typical of a field agent of Federal Intelligence was seen briskly walking towards them and with her was an entourage of armed men in similar, if lightly armored, uniforms. “Agent Silvia Connors.” She declared with an air of professionalism. “Intelligence Assault Division. I know this was unexpected, but the Director himself saw it necessary to have us assist you in your endeavors in whatever way we can.”

“I’ll take all the help I can, Agent.” Malcolm said with an approving nod, then followed by a loud yawn, stretching his arms out up in the air. “Now, if it’s all the same with you, I need shuteye.” He paused as he turned his attention onto Julian. “Captain Tanner, you have the helm for the time being.” Malcolm then scanned the whole group, nodding one more. “We’ve got good people here, and know that we’ll put to a stop to whatever the hell is going on out in the frontier.” He paused as he took a small breather. “We’ll save our people and countless others. We either go home losers and dead, or go home alive and as heroes, and I sure as hell ain’t planning on going home a dead loser, dismissed."
Hidden 6 days ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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Orleans Space
Federation Frontier Station Pathway
Hangar Bay



“Ambassador Rev - I must again express my gratitude on behalf of my most humble soldiers that someone of your rank and stature would reach out to us. Truly, we are thankful,” burbled the Petalos female Yaenton Praetarei, CEO of SkullCorp™© Specialised Forces. Before them, in the vast hangar hall of the space station, stood a small force of a thousand human soldiers, armoured with titanium-reinforced kevlar over dark purple hyperfiber shirts. Apart from that, though, their look was far from uniform, helmets and hairstyles being completely optional. The weapon was of a single model, however - the Prrp & Sterlington Model 98 laser rifle, arguably the finest handheld weapon ever produced by that squid and ape. The soldiers gave the ambassador a proper salute despite their seemingly casual take on order and style.

“The pleasure is all mine, Ms. Praetarei.” Ambassador Rev said, dressed in a fine ebony colored suit, flanked by two guards. “Let’s discuss further details of your contract in my office, your men in the meantime can make free use of this station’s amenities.”

“Wonderful, wonderful. Force Commander - come here, please.”

The lady standing at the front of the battalion, a seemingly young human with side cuts underneath a long length of purple hair running down the right side of her head that matched her hyperfiber suit. She stomped one combat boot to the floor, marched forward until she arrived before the ambassador and the CEO, and saluted. “Yes, Ms. Praetarei?”

“Ambassador Rev, this is Force Commander Erina Thatch - she will serve as our primary representative to you once the contract has been signed, if it pleases. Commander Thatch, the ambassador has given you and your soldiers permission to use the amenities aboard the station as you see fit.”

Thatch turned so her body faced the ambassador and once again saluted. “Thank you, ambassador. It shall be a pleasure to relax after such a long jump.”

The ambassador gave a nod of acknowledge to Commander Thatch. “I’ll leave you to that, Commander.” He said, turning his attention back to the CEO. “This way, please.” A short time passes as both the Ambasaador Rev and Ms. Praetarei traversed the glistening corridors of Pathway station, passing by station personnel, all giving nods or salutes to the pair. Before long they would finally arrive to the Ambassador’s office, the doors sliding wide open to reveal a lavishly designed office space. The Ambassador took his seat near the edge of the room, a ray-shield window display right behind him. Rev leaned forward on his desk as he got comfortable. “Please, take a seat, make yourself comfortable.”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador,” Ms. Praetarei said with a smile and sat down in a chair. She tapped the Raygon band on her left wrist and blinked at the brightness of the holographic display popping up before her. After lowering the brightness a little and tapping out of the ads not even her special subscription could subdue, she opened up a document on the screen, enlarged it and showed it to the ambassador. “Here we are. Everything is as we discussed pre-arrival, with one exception - after a second opinion from our arms supplier, we have decided to switch to hardier lithium-ion battery packs. That will add an additional… Let’s see here… Ah, yes, an additional five hundred thousand ITC credits to the already agreed amount. Is this agreeable still?”

“A bit steep, but acceptable.” The Ambassador said. He looked down to his desk as he pressed down a button. “Bring in the payment.” Within a few moments, a service android, one of those new models with their life-like humanoid faces, entered the room with a rather heavy briefcase. The Android approached the desk as it placed down the briefcase, unlocking it to unveil the previously agreed upon amount of credits. “Your additional payment will be transferred in a later date. I hope this will suffice for now.”

Ms. Praetarei graciously accepted the briefcase and whistled as she weighed it in her arms, looking rather strained doing so. “Oh, this will--... ‘Scuse me,” she said and deposited the briefcase back in the droid’s arms, huffing a little, “this will do wonderfully. Well, then - SkullCorp’s Fourth Battalion is yours to command, Ambassador. Is there anything else you would like to discuss? You mentioned further details?”

“Ah, yes. I did say that.” The Ambassador said. Rev leaned backed against his chair as he clasped his talons over his knees. “This isn’t public knowledge as of yet, technically hasn’t even happened yet.” Rev paused as he stood up from his chair and walked over to his wine cabinet, grabbing a glass and cracking open a bottle of Parravon wine. ”The Federation is planning to support the Orleans Invasion of Duro One. We simply await the official directive from the Madam Chancellor herself.” He paused once more, pouring the wine in his glass. “Oh, I apologize, would you like some? It’s simply exquisite.”

“Oh, why, yes, please,” Ms. Praetarei burbled happily and accepted a glass. She gave it a whiff, raised it to the ambassador and took a sip. “Oh my, that is fantastic. Mmm! But yes, if I am understanding you correctly, the Fourth should remain invisible for the time being, yes?”

The Ambassador nodded. “Correct, for now they are to remain on standby on this station. Once the Federation announces its support of the Orleans invasion and deploys its task force, the fourth will rendezvous with our forces near the planet’s orbit.”

Ms. Praetarei hummed to herself and took another sip of wine. “Understood. The message will be relayed to Commander Thatch. Does the station have combat simulation facilities? Holodecks or the like would suffice.”

Rev took a moment to sip of the wine. “The best we can offer are holodecks, your men can make use of them to their hearts desire.”

“Do these accept type 3 memory cartridges? Oh, sorry, that’s the standard in Raygon space. They’re the skinny ones, you know? Those that you put into the machine to set up a simulation?” She tried to mimic its shape with her hands. It looked square. “For legal reasons, we prefer to use our patented simulations, you understand.”
“Of course, of course.” Rev said. “Might put a bit of a strain on the system, but our holodecks are up to spec for the most part.”

“Fantastic. That should be no issue, in that case. We have to keep them in shape for the actual fighting.” She had some more wine. “Do you have any other questions, ambassador?”

“Oh no, you’re free to go Ms. Praetarei.” Rev said.” Only that I ask that this conversation stays between us. The Federation’s activities in the frontier is a…sensitive matter, I’m sure you understand.”

“Client discretion and secrecy are paramount to our company, mr. Ambassador. This conversation never happened and we’ve never been here.” Ms. Praetarei winked, downed the rest of her glass and stood up. She opened the display on her wrist, tapped out of the ads and eyed the time. “Well, then - I should be returning to Raygon. I’m certain our competitors will be tracing our ship, as usual. By the way, be on the lookout for additional offers - if the Desperados make contact, ignore them at all cost. They’ll rob you blind.”

“Duly noted” Rev nodded. “Regardless, the Federation only seeks the services of SkullCorp, your expertise is most useful in what we have planned.”

“We certainly hope to satisfy. As discussed, the Fourth thrive especially well when unseen. The model 98 fires laser beams soundlessly that can cut through ten inches of steel, so they are as useful in assassinations as they are in sabotage. Use them as you see fit, of course, but their assets will be best utilised in the shadows. They commonly operate far beyond the frontlines - separated into squads, naturally. What radio encryption does the Federation use again? Commander Thatch might need a copy of it to sync their relays.”

“Ah, my apologies, I’ll get that done.” Rev said as he took a seat once more as a holo-screen materialized before him. Pressing down several keys before a loud “bing” sound rung. “There, Federation Radio Encryptions have been uploaded into your wrist-comm. Your soldiers should have little trouble assessing fed-comms.”

“Fantastic. That should be all on my part, then. I wish you the best of luck in the coming conflict and certainly hope our soldiers live up to your expectations.” She spun around, took a step and stopped. “Oh, by the way, would it be too much to ask if you could fill out this customer satisfaction survey for today’s service?” Another “bing” sounded from the Ambassador’s screen. “It takes two minutes at the most. Thank you in advance. It has been a joy to do business with you, Ambassador Rev.”

Rev nodded. “The honor was mine, and farewell Ms. Praetarei.”
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Hidden 5 days ago Post by Abefroeman
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Abefroeman Truck Driver

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Royal Palace, Quenelles, Throne Room of King Reynaud D'Reciet IV


King Reynaud sat upon his throne, being briefed by a slew of advisors. He sipped a cup of coffee, listening intently to the senior staff within his inner circle. Troop movements, fleet dispositions, supply lines, casualties, and on. Important things, no doubt, but the King's mind was elsewhere. It was the request by the Madame Chancellor of Federation. Among other things, such as the CCN atrocities that were now being reported to him by the refugees that were saved from the embassy on Nyrene Terius. Holding up his right hand, he stood up from the throne, and walked towards the map table in the center of the room. He studied the layout of his forces upon Duro One. Each piece representing thousands of soldiers, men sworn to the Throne and to him. He turned to his senior Maréchal de Orleans, Vincent de Bournonville, a man who had served his own father for nearly thirty years.

"Maréchal Bournonville, you know more than most, so tell me, what will it take in order for us to bring this conflict on Duro One to a close? I do not want some drug out occupation neither. We can ill afford to expend forces playing police on Duro One. So tell everyone here, what will it take to bring that dictator to heel, and to bring him before justice?" The King's voice was calm, both hands now clasped behind him, having set his coffee cup down.

"Your grace... One Million men. We underestimated the level of resistance of President Gray. Général de brigade Marcel has offered his retirement, over this debacle, though I understand you refused it, and instead had him transferred to Headquarters duties. To defeat these terrorists, we need one million more men." He stood at parade rest, the elder officer looking at his King with respect. The other gathered officers nervously looked at one another, before peering at their king.

"One million men, granted. You will lead them personally, Maréchal Bournonville. I want you to show these Duro One usurpers what happens to those who defy the laws of Orleans, and seek to personally enrich themselves on the blood of others. When can you leave for the front, Maréchal Bournonville?" The King now stood face to face with his entrusted general. The two looked at one another, eyes locked, before the elder man smiled, "I can leave now your Grace, I will take my flagship and depart within the hour."

"Ever the Arctic Fox, aren't you? Good, good. Then you have my royal decree to take command of our forces. A further thing, Maréchal Bournonville, I want you to send a relief force to help out in the Embassy District of Duro One. It appears that local militias are trying to get a hold of foreign hostages. I will not allow foreign nationals to be used as shield against our noble cause. Understood?" The elder man nodded. "Your grace, I will send word to Colonel Cordelier, that sector is under his command. He will see to the defense of the foreigners. I will be heading out now, your grace. I look forward to seeing you once all this is over."

The elder man quickly exited the throne room, the double doors closing behind him. The king sighed, before turning to face his remaining senior staff. They were all good men, some battle tested, others rising through the ranks during times of peace. They all looked to their king, to see what would happen next. The king looked towards the map, before speaking to his senior staff. "I will personally meet with the Madame Chancellor of the Federation. The conflict on Duro One is but a symptom of a larger affliction. Those abominations of the CCN are a scourge to all sentient life in the galaxy, the longer we let them go unchecked, the longer they continue to spread their corruption. They are chaos incarnate, demons parading as sentient life, when all they care for is the death and assimilation of all life not in their image." King Reynaud walked to the map table, bringing up the digital display of Nyrene Terius.

"We were able to save some three thousand natives of Nyrene Terius, embassy staff and their families. From what they have been able to tell our intelligence personnel, those metal demons are butchering their people on a genocidal level. Furthermore, the bodies of our citizens have finally made it home..." King Reynaud grew quiet, motioning a staffer to bring up the images. He let the grisly pictures hover before everyone in the throne room. He looked at the dead with great sorrow, before speaking again, "They called what they did justice... all I see are the wanton desires of blood lusting demons." The image was replaced with a map once more. The king was visibly angry, as were many others in the room.

"Ready a fleet for travel. I plan on breaking bread with the Madame Chancellor. Her message was received, and we shall show her that the people of Orleans and those of the Federation can be worthwhile allies, in the wars to come against these agents of chaos, these demons of the CCN. I leave the rest to you for the time being, ensure that the realm continues to serve the Goddess, and I will be bringing Lady Avoleth with me to the Federation, so she may firsthand relay her experiences to the wider galaxy." The king sat back down in his throne, taking up a new cup of coffee, before beckoning his advisors and staff to continue on with their tasks. He sat, watching them, listening to them, as he prepared himself to meet with the Madame Chancellor.

They spoke of regional things, a drought here, bountiful harvest there, a mining accident, the opening of a shrine to the Goddess, a territorial border dispute between two lords, the day to day events and happenings of the realm. A small thing of note, King Reynaud took notice of, was the recent interdiction of an unregistered trade vessel that border customs had inspected, which contained thousands of tons of illicit drugs. When he got back, there would need to be an edict passed to help further protect the people of Orleans from these narco-terrorist thugs.

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Hidden 5 days ago 5 days ago Post by Crispy Octopus
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Crispy Octopus Into the fryer we go.

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Schloss Habingen, Kempf Demesne, Halcyon, Trachis System, Eden Cluster


The Sky Garden


“Pft. No, I don’t think that will be necessary Anthony,” Lord Christoph Kempf waved his hand dismissively before the hologram sitting across from him and went on, “The drones are unpleasant at the best of times, but dangerous? They wouldn’t be concerning themselves with pretexts if they had the strength or, or the will, to be anything more than the annoyance than they already are.”

The digital recreation of Lord Anthony Hawthorn frowned, clearly unconvinced. “I can’t say I agree with that Christoph. A cancer can only be ignored for so long. The CCN is ideologically incompatible with the status quo. They’ll keep doing things like this, expecting nothing, until the day comes when, as you say, they don’t need a pretext anymore. It will be too late then.”

“They haven’t the balls, and they’re well past the point where they could grow a pair.” Lord Kempf chuckled airily before pointing to the other Lord, “But! If it will cure you of this... Anxiety, I’ll agree to your proposal. I can spare a few Men-At-Arms, and lord knows they need the experience.”

Lord Hawthorn hesitated before answering with a sigh, “My thanks, Lord Kempf. The unit I’m forming will certainly be an… Opportunity, for your troops to get real experience in battle.”

“One hopes. There aren’t enough ways to keep my men’s blades sharp. Speaking of, I trust you’re aware of the situation on Duro one? I’m thinking I’ll-” Christoph stalled as a servant, a young Ataraxian woman with long black hair, coughed into her hand behind him.

He looked positively irate at the interruption, but waved her over nonetheless. She leaned down to speak into his ear and after a brief exchange of whispers he refocused on the hologram before him and spoke again, “I’m sorry, Anthony, but something has come up, we’ll have to hammer out the specifics later.”

For his part, Lord Hawthorn only nodded before severing the connection. With a sigh Christoph stood from his chair and took a deep breath, taking in the exotic scents of the rare plants that surrounded him, before turning to his servant with a frown, “So he’s run off again, has he?”

“I’m… I’m afraid it’s not like the other times, my Lord.” The Ataraxian woman faltered, eyes on the floor.

It was, in Christoph’s mind, explanation enough. No servant of his, let alone Amelia, would be that spinelessly deferential unless the news was bad. With a grunt the Lord motioned for Amelia to follow him to the ornate windows that fenced in the lurid garden and sighed heavily when they reached them. His eyes found the Habingen spaceport, a stout building on the edge of the property. “So,” He spoke evenly, “Hans has decided to get serious.”

Amelia gulped before explaining, “He stole one of your racing skiffs last night my Lord. After last time he shouldn’t have had access but, well, he managed to take the ship out of the planets atmosphere. Your men at the port reported that he had a valid security code. No alarms were raised until one of your men at the Gate station inquired as to why a family vessel was taking an unscheduled trip to a frontier planet.”

Christoph cocked a brow and looked at his servant, “Is that all? I admit, this is the first time he’s had the gall to use the Gate, but we can track the ship.”

“Ah,” Amelia pursed her lips before answering, “I’ve also been informed that, well, your investment account is missing some ten million credits.”

“Oh.” Christoph blinked before, rather suddenly, bursting out in raucous laughter, “That takes balls! Oh that boy has something coming, but that’s more than I ever dared take when I tried that nonsense.”

“Lord?” Amelia was taken aback by the laughter, and hazarded a small smile before asking, “Would you, ah, like me to dispatch a retrieval team?”

“No, no!” Christoph answered loudly, “Not until he’s had his fun. If he’s going to dig himself a hole, I’ll damn well let him dig it. Don’t tell Clara a word of this. Lovely as my wife is, she worries enough already. I’ll bring Hans back eventually, but not before the boy learns what it’s really like out there, especially for people with millions of credits on their damn personal implant.”

“Very well, my lord.” Amelia nodded, “I’ll see that we keep an eye on him, then.”

“Do so.” Christoph waved Amelia off before grinning again and staring into the expansive blue sky.

As the only door to the Old Garden hissed shut behind him Lord Christoph Kempf shook his head happily and muttered, “You’re in for it now, Hans."
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Hidden 2 days ago 2 days ago Post by Andreyich
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Andreyich 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕽𝖚𝖓𝖊𝖘' 𝕲𝖑𝖔𝖜

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Shortly after the January Massacres





It was yet another wait in the Nyrene system, and he Neohumans under Captain Viktor Tarau extremely bored with their experience. Waiting around was the job of Uskoks, not Reislaufers; the present company had signed up for adventure, not glorified guard duty! Much time passed before the first alert came. This was different than the last one. This was an actual fleet, even if a small one. The savages of the Kingdom of Orleans had arrived, likely upset over the animals they called proxies being slaughtered. An urge to spit was barely suppressed by the Captain, who promptly opened a line with other Councillary ships in the system.

Orders were simple, move in as close as possible. Aim weapons, and surround the Kingdom's vessels. Do everything to provoke them possible, whilst remaining absolved of any blame for potential escalation. But it seemed the diplomatic fleet had good resolve, and did not respond to the bait. "Shame." the Sergeant said. "I'd have liked to squash a few more heads. The frogs had such soft ones, very pleasant to bash in."

"No such luck Sergeant. Take us back to Sol, we're done here."




A little later





The Varangian returned to the Sol system, its home, its genesis. The crew reported for their upgrades, improvements to the genetic composition and cybernetics provided over the course of a day. Little by little, Neohumanity got better. There were new recruits to the ship, a few men fresh out of the factory, a few people simply out for adventure being tired of their quiet lives in Sol, a few people just now maturing and being told by their aptitude testing that it was a soldier's life for them. For the next assignment of The Varangian the crew would be hunting some pirates to ease in new members, just a quick few purges to get a taste of combat beyond the simulations. They refuelled and restocked, before once more leaving Sol for new space.

They were sent to a frontier system prowling for pirates. Not a system that was a tributary of the CCN, but one to welcome the free security provided by their hunting (provided of course, they didn't come in numbers to signal it was a potential invasion). They activated the stealth regime of the vessel, before settling down just by the jump gate. Now the wait begun, sorting civilian from pirate ships until some real prey was found.

Viktor was sitting in the command bay along with the Sergeant, just finishing up the activation of stealth protocols until one of the people passing through the room caught his eye. A young woman by the natural black hair, the sight of which made him lament that he hadn’t wholly reviewed the staff yet. “You there, can you come here?” he beckoned, and as the woman turned to him realization dawned; it was the same psychic as he had fought on Uracao. She avoided his gaze, having clearly recognized him first and instead looked to the ground. “It’s, it’s you… you’re different.” Viktor said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

“Yes, they made sure of that.” she replied, finally looking up. Her eyes, previously a very dark brown much like Victor’s were now glowing red prosthetics. Her skin was largely the same visually save for a few lines making her new cybernetic nature obvious. She was bigger of course, as Neohumans tend to be in contrast with their outdated cousins and her thin frame was bulked up with muscle here and there. The Sergeant looked up at the hubbub, eyes narrowing on the girl. She looked back at him, after a moment raising a finger and muttering “Y-you’re the butcher, aren’t you?” He didn’t quite recognize her at first, but in the precise moment he did his chainaxe roared into action before he even grabbed it and ran forth at her with a savage growl. Fear gripped the young woman but she didn’t panic, using her abilities to swipe the chainblade from the Sergeant’s hand. This did little but marginally increment his fury as in milliseconds he closed the distance. He flung a fist that would tear open vehicles, but it stopped mid-air by a psychic shield his quarry generated, hairs and then skin slowly burning away. Oleksandr didn’t relent though, fists cycling at the shield one by one and in moments cracking it with violent arcs of electricity across the room. Both he and the psychic were sent airborne, but before Kjaro could get up Viktor put his boot on the man’s throat. “No, stay down. Relax.”

“What? She’s one of them! She fought for them let me go! Let me go!”

“She joined us, Sergeant. Relax, before you become Private.”

Kjaro didn’t bother dignifying the Captain’s words with a response, grabbing him by the leg with both hands and sending his body flying. He righted himself and once more threw himself at the psychic. Every punch he threw was lethal and it was by pure luck the woman avoided them. Viktor grabbed the Sergeant from behind, doing his best to restrain the man. But it was pointless, for from the depths of Kjaro’s rage came strength, speed, and skill unimaginable. But what was imaginable was the half dozen Legionnaires that came and restrained the beast. Even they struggled against his violent thrashing, but he was ultimately subdued.

“Recruit… what’s the name?”

“Alyx. Alyx Fuentes.”

“Recruit Fuentes please get to your quarters I have to speak with the Sergeant momentarily and then I will check in on you. Go on.”

Watching her exit the room, Viktor motioned to the Legionnaires to let go of the Sergeant, who was no longer red in the flesh.

“Right then, Sergeant Kjaro. Tell me where all this hate comes from.”

“She fought for the Federation, for the bastards that want nothing but our end! She has-”

“No, Sergeant. Tell me where it really comes from. Tell me the story you’ve been avoiding for the many weeks we’ve been together. Tell me why is it you’re ‘the Butcher’. You rank depends on it you know, and I’ll find out anyway.”

The Sergeant spat, still shaking with desires for violence in spite of having relatively calmed down. “You want to know? Fine. It fucking hurts me you little shit, that’s why I don’t tell it but fine, just to please your little sensibilities I’ll tell it. Maybe you can learn something from it.”




About a century ago




Theme


It was a true hail of fire. Captain Oleksandr Kjaro really hadn't seen so many combatants in one place before. Like ants the Feds stormed the bunker, but valour held the position. Valour, and some really big guns. "Like water from a fucking hose!" an Uskok called out, the unending stream of fire eternally keeping him pinned down.

"Don't worry, we've had worse boys!" Captain Kjaro cried, but he knew it was a lie. The Feds really weren't fucking around.

"I see twenty more running up from the right!"

"Got four!"

"Grenade!"

Messages of this sort flew across the noosphere, but as more and more lucky shots from the enemy came the amount of outgoing messages decreased one by one. The bunker had to hold, or else the Federation would know the real item of interest on this world and then bad things could ensue very, very quickly. But with an ever decreasing amount of soldiers something had to change or within an hour this swarm would break through and a whole company of the outdateds would poke around in the… facility below the bunker.

Kjaro dropped from his spot of cover, slowly crawling into the depths of the bunker. "Sir! Sir what the hell are you doing?" Demanded an Uskok.

"Saving us, and the bunker!" Oleksandr replied.

"Sir get back here! There's too many of them, we need you!"

"Just keep your heads down." the Captain muttered, crawling on. A few bullets ricocheted at him, but they lost enough velocity to no longer even hurt.

"What the hell are you doing?" Demanded a soldier, as Kjaro went to fiddling with the bunker's defence array. The turrets were long since blown apart in the fighting but preventing a simple charge were the radioactive and sonic emanators. This insured only foes in heavy power armour could get close, but the fodder had to kill the defenders first. Slowly, he weakened it, before with slight intermissions turned these defences on and off. The region's reactor was busted, and the enemy could suppose that the defence array was losing power, in addition to receiving more and more battle damages. They could not possibly know the facility had auxiliary power. After a few more moments, Kjaro wholly turned the radioactive and sonic emissions off.

It took several minutes for the attackers to realize through the noise and smoke of their firearms that the defence keeping them at range was off. But the moment it was apparent, they were emboldened and rushed forth. Now suppressive fire was the aim, not just the result as of their shooting, men getting ever closer. They were just about in grenade throwing range with some of the foe reaching to do just that, as Kjaro screamed: "I know what I'm doing boys!" before violently turning the defence array back on to full power and then some, having spent the last few minutes overclocking it in the terminal.

The first thing the enemy soldiers felt was the series of sonic pulses, each violently rupturing organs and blood streams internal and external alike. Then the effects of the radiation was clear, more of the same happening to the attackers in addition to skin melting; the combined effects of Sonics and radiation turned the infantry to human(oid) slurries. The troops in power armour now found themselves without support against an entrenched for and those that wouldn't run didn't take long to be overwhelmed by the weight of fire.

"That wouldn't work ninety nine times out of ten Sir, you risked our lives for a gambit."

"It only has to work this time. 's why I'm Captain, you're Lieutenant. Now then Kessler, what’s the news from the rest of the world.”

From the eyes of the Lieutenant projected a hologram of the world, many key points on it being marked.

“Several counter-offensives have been met with success, I-sector parts one to thirty-nine have been retaken as well as the entirety of K sector. It seems the enemy decided to go for a heavy advance into the A-sector, an unexpected and bold push but they’ve gone very deep in mere hours.”

Oleksandr's smug demeanour instantly dropped, his subordinates for the first time seeing him unsettled. Knowing he had to keep up morale Kjaro quickly went back to his previous appearance but the veneer had cracked in everyone's eyes. "How far?" the Captain demanded.

"Kilometres. In some pockets they're about to cross into B sector." the display shifted to show precise troop movements, and a mixture of fear and frothing fury started to rise in the man. "We're only a few kilometres from there we're going to flank the enemy and assist the defence of A sector."

"Those weren't our orders."

"I am your superior, Lieutenant, and I give you your orders."

"My orders were given directly from the Governor and supercede your authority."

"Shut up! Everyone come with me!"

Oleksandr started walking off, but he didn't have to turn his head to hear nobody following. "So that's it, is it." He spun on his heels, walking over face to face with Kessler. "Fine. You want to defend this useless bunker? Go ahead. But as a defender you have no use for that jump pack. Hand it over."

"It was issued to me."

"You know Lieutenant, it wasn't a question and somehow you still managed to give a wrong answer."

A fist swung in to strike Kessler on the chin, removing his balance. With that his legs were swiped out from under him and the Captain jumped on him. He flipped the man over and his hands dug into the flesh of the Lieuyenant's back." I didn't want to do this Andrei." he said, ripping out the jump pack from the man's body with much meat still attached. "Come to think of it, might need these too." Kjaro continued, ripping off the arms and legs from Kessler. They weren't his size, but if he lost his own then they'd suffice for quick replacement. Mag-locking the limbs and necessary supplies across his combat webbing Kjaro looked up at the Uskoks with rifles upraised. He laughed. "None of you little shots are going to shoot me. Why would you? You'd only damage an already poor situation. Now if you’re all too cowardly to come with me then lower your weapons, have a rest.” Kjaro stood up, turned and after jamming the jump pack into his flesh got a running start, before soaring on wings of fire.

He flew for some time to A sector, the cold wind in the skies relaxing Captain Kjaro and letting him clear up any negative thoughts about his family’s state. They’re safe, they’re safe... he reassured himself, not even noticing the first shots that hit him. But he was soon made aware of the fact anti-air fire going at him, his flight suffering noticeably. Looking down he noticed a proper anti-air cannon taking aim, and acted fast. The soldier broke the mental link connecting his cybernetics to the jump-pack, disconnecting him from it. The pack kept on flying, taking the AA fire while the Captain plummeted towards the ground. He spun trying to slow down his flight, but it was to no avail. As he crashed through the roof of a building he hit, he at least noted he was close to his destination. This was A sector, the designation for the city of Anselm. It was one of the few true cities of the planet, a small oasis of high-life from the rough deserts of New Babylon. Naturally, the Neohuman arrivals to New Babylon of course settling here — Svetlana, Helga, Jaako, Karina and Stepan Kjaro all among them.

The Captain righted himself, checking his ocular display for his exact location. He was close to his family residence, but not close enough. Righting himself, he looked about and listened to check his surroundings. It became pretty clear he was deep in Federation controlled territory, and he had to move fast. This was the third floor of the building, and while there were no troops on it a quick scan revealed there were some on the first floor and in the cellars who were promptly going to his position. The Neohuman ran forwards to smash through the wall and jump to the street below. There were several soldiers of the Federation present, quick to their weapons. But whilst airborne Kjaro was already preparing for battle and having landed his pistol hit the first man to properly aim his rifle, before going to full-auto and suppressing the rest. In but a second he crossed the street into the building on the opposite side, the sliding doors having been blown off and on the ground. It was formerly a shopping complex of some sort, but now it mostly housed the vile invaders of this land along with a few locals or refugees.

Kjaro knew that the men from the street were hot on his trail and while he was considerably faster than them they could easily get backup to surround him, and he had to be quick. The Captain ducked into a corridor with several small shops on either side, but unfortunately man were already in it rather than just in the shops. Bullets and lasers instantly flew at him forcing him to side-step into one of the shops. He took out his own rifle and a cluster of grenades, throwing four at once with one hand whilst taking aim with the rifle in his other hand. The foe ducked for cover regardless of if a grenade was directed at them and they all handily gave him the opportunity to shoot them in the back or their sides. Rifle upraised he continued on through the corridor, breathing heavily. A man poked his head out to check why the hell was shooting happening in the zone of respite. He didn’t even have time to process Oleksandr’s presence before his head was vapourized by a laser. Oleksandr could hear men descending down stairs to open the door on the opposite end of the corridor, and knew he had to act fast. He ran past the many shops which he promptly noted had people within, but he couldn’t kill them all and he had to ignore them. Just as the soldiers on the other end were about to open the door, he barrelled into it with his shoulder, knocking down the man hit by it before falling down together with him. Being more prepared he reacted for faster than the enemy’s comrades and so he unleashed a beam of laser to the throat of every enemy. Even more were coming down the staircase and so Kjaro worked fast dropping the almost empty battery of his rifle and slapped in a new one. The wall was far stronger here and Kjaro likely couldn’t so quickly smash through it so quickly by himself, and so he threw another grenade upwards to a turn in the staircase. It forced the men above to stop their progress, and it softened the wall so that the Captain could simply run through it.

He dropped into a grassy patch below, not bothering to roll with his augmented frame. He ran forwards, noticing he was by the unloading bay of the shopping centre. Men were at rest here, having used the garage to store tanks. The man tried to crouch past them at first using the now unwatered bushes of the place as cover, but he knew the men behind him were in hot pursuit and quickly it dawned he wouldn’t be able so simply sneak past the tankists. He stood up sprinting, the enemy soldiers first not taking notice of him. But soon they did, and all had different reactions. Some ran to raise an alarm, others to weapons, while a few went inside the tank and a few simply ran for their lives. Cursing, Oleksandr fired carelessly hitting some men whilst forcing others to hit the deck. He ran towards the tank, which the Feds got operational in record time and were about to fire on Kjaro. But they hadn’t considered the range he was in, and with a jump in an underhand throw landed his last grenade down the barrel of the tank. Only one man realized what happened quick enough to hop out, the rest were vapourized inside their metal cage. The Captain felt bullets hit him in the back, but he couldn’t deal with them and he simply had to keep moving.

He ran through a smaller building with its original purpose now forgotten save “office” of some sort, this one thankfully being abandoned. On the other side a patrol was going down a street and it was through sheer luck Kjaro got behind a tree before it noticed him. The marching column of soldiers passed just in time for him to run across yet another street into a building he recognized a little more. This was formerly the police station of the city, quite a large complex, the paramilitary nature of which was clearly capitalized upon by the Federation occupants.

Through it was the quickest route to get home.

By the sound of gunfire it was clear he was reaching the frontline, a thought that did not go down well for the Captain. But he powered on, walking into the station that had it’s doors open, given this was the side upon which combat was not supposed to be happening. But he heard voices and movement which indicated that it was still heavily populated. For about a minute he hid behind the reception of the station as a squad of soldiers in power armour walked past, before continuing into the depths of the building. He held his breath (a purely cosmetic action that helped the man concentrate) crouching down a hallway, checking a scan of the building’s layout for his quickest way out. His plans were promptly interrupted as he overheard the same power-armoured squad marching towards his location, clearly a regular patrol of the building. He ducked to the side into an office which he came to realize was an interrogation room. Locking the door behind himself, Kjaro realized that perhaps this was for the best given it meant it was sound-proofed, and this would make sure nobody was aware of his coming fight with the very large, gorilla-like Simmie in the room. The beast pounded it’s chest, but in spite of its bulk it was very fast. Before the Captain could raise his rifle to fire the thing swiped it out of his hands before trying to grab either shoulder. But Kjaro was a Neohuman, and he could more than match this filthy alien! The man’s hands locked with those of the ape, and he laughed as he saw the look of surprise on the Simmie’s face when not only was it unable to push the man’s hands back, but instead Kjaro was pushing it’s whole arms back and rather painfully behind its body. It hooted in suffering, but nobody could hear it. It’s hands broke, and Kjaro let go of the thing that now tried to crawl backwards and away. It was to no use however, Kjaro wasn’t going to let it be and twisted it’s head so violently that it came off. Perhaps this moment of savagery was a mistake, as it let blood splatter onto the tiny window of the door to the room. The Captain panicked believing the patrol might be alerted by this, and seeing no other option jumped down the garbage chute of the room. He had trouble fitting in it, but after breaking a bit of machinery he quite happily slid down. This was no longer a police station however, and sliding down Kjaro didn’t hit a pile of garbage, instead falling simply quite hard onto a steel floor. But it was nothing compared to the recent trauma he took, so it was ignored. Getting upright he wasted no time, climbing out of the garbage repository and looking at the scene before him. The basement was something of a storage for the Feds it seemed, crates of all sorts about the place. From here the warrior decided it was best he go on to the sewer, perhaps cutting into the catacombs of the locals if he could find an entrance. Walking by looking for a grate or manhole he was pleasantly surprised to look into a room which seemed to be something of an armoury. Oleksandr stepped in, smashing his ammo-starved weapons before overloading their batteries so that they wouldn’t fall into enemy hands for research and development so easily. With that he grabbed a nice assortment of weapons from the cache. They were ballistics that wouldn’t stand up to the lasers he had just discarded, but they would suffice and more importantly they had ammo in abundance.

With that Kjaro went on, passing by a doorway into the sight of a man with a clipboard. He was open-mouthed, and didn’t utter a word before Kjaro pounced upon him. He was about to sink his razor nails into his throat, until noticing the red-cross armband he had. Oleksandr looked up, realizing this was the prisoner holding cell of the police station. The bars were cut away, and wounded were stored here. Every single man looked at him in fear, the different states of their injuries leaving them nevertheless at Kjaro’s mercy. “Please….” the doctor below Kjaro begged. “Please I’m just a doctor, these men are hurt. They’re not a threat! Please!” Looking into the doctor’s eyes and that of the men, Oleksandr didn’t know what to do. He stood up, raising his pistol and cycling his aim between the many targets he found present. The medic stood up himself and raised both hands placatingly. “Please, we won’t say anything just don’t do anything!”

“Shut up!” Kjaro replied. He rubbed his forehead, walking in a circle. “Fine, fine. But tell me where the last manhole you saw is.”

“...w...what?”

“You fucking heard me!”

Kjaro’s voice was amplified to the point of causing physical pain, but it got urgency across.

“Outside! The room, I mean. Walk out and take the first turn left; there should be one I think.”

The Captain ran out and did as instructed, glad to find the man was right. He removed the cover of the manhole, and closing it behind himself went home. It was a straight line that he went through with speed, emerging with his family’s home in his vision. There was gunfire everywhere, soldiers from both sides everywhere in his vision.

“Sveta!” Oleksandr cried out, hoping his wife would reply. He got none, but he noticed a federation soldier going by the building’s balcony and firing inside. The thought this man might be at this very moment hitting a member of his family was perhaps the beginning of now Sergeant Kjaro’s mania. Quite literally he saw red, his cybernetic ocular overlay glitching with the imbalance of chemicals flowing through his brain as an unimaginable state of rage came over him. He ran forward ignoring all the shooting coming at him only stopping to grab a Federation soldier by the neck and biting his eyes out so he wouldn’t fire his rocket launcher. The cry of pain soothed Oleksandr, but only barely. He ascended the steps to the building, smashing through the door to a scene that engrained itself in his memory to this very day. Helga holding little Stepan on the ground, whilst Jaako tried to protect them with their body and Karina lying wounded by his feet. “They’re just fucking robots.” A soldier said, and emptied a magazine upon the children of the Kjaro family. Oleksandr was dazed, and he had only one possible reaction: violence. He was a blur of movement, but with his bare hands the Captain turned each damned Fed into red mush. The perpetrators of the crime were dead, and for now that would be enough; Svetlana could still be alive. “Sveta!” he roared again, checking every part of the building for her. In a small destroyed section, he found her, or at least what was left. Her head, and the upper right part of her torso was all that he could find. The wetware records of Oleksandr Mikolaevich Kjaro showed that this was the first time in his life that he cried, but it was a cry like no others. “What have they done to you?” he said to nobody in particular, laughing blissfully as her eyes opened upon the words being said. “Sveta?” he asked, the beginnings of a smile coming upon him.

“I knew I would see you one last time.” Svetlana said, returning Oleksandr’s smile.

“No, no, I’ll get you out let me just check the scanner I’ll-”

“No, Oleksei. You won’t.” She coughed, a mixture of blood and hydraulic fluid coming out.

“They’re dead, aren’t they. I heard what happened. Don’t lie to me.”

“Yes. Yes the Fed bastards shot them.”

“I see. Then my fight was for nothing.”

“No! No, it wasn’t, please, hold on!”

“It’s too late my love. Remember us, please.”

“I will.” Again Svetlana coughed, her eyes dimming.

“Go, Knight of honour, go Knight of faith. Show them your valour, bring them their fates.”

Svetlana’s eyes closed, and that was the end of her life. Oleksandr simply remained where he was for about an hour, not caring for the fighting happening around him and he was unphased when the building collapsed with its rubble burying him. The shooting had subsided, and Kjaro got himself out of the rubble. With a thoughtful expression he went back through the sewers, again emerging in the police station turned Fed barracks. He went inside the makeshift hospital, blocking it off with a few large crates he grabbed on the way there. All present recognized the Captain, the Doctor standing up from a seat he was taking.

"We didn't tell anyone anything I swear!" He managed before Kjaro grabbed his mouth, shushing him into silence.

"I have only a single question for you. Are Neohumans, for your people, machines? Robots?"

“There’s… there’s many different opinions you can’t just reduce-”

“It’s a yes or no question.”

“...Yes.”

Go Knight of Honour, go Knight of Faith.

“Good.”

Show them your valour, bring them their fates.

In a flash the Captain pulled out one of the Doctor’s ribs, and turned him over to cover his mouth so the screams of pain would be stifled.

“Now I won’t have any remorse.” He ran the rib like a blade down the length of the doctor’s back, then pulled off his skin in one great tug. Kjaro laughed, spinning the skin in a circle like a gymnast a rope. He went over to one of the injured men, placing his hands in the folds of the dead doctor’s face and doing a poor mimicry of his speech.

“I say, you seem to be afraid of your dear old medic. I think some sort of pathogen is in you, I see you’re having trouble breathing!” This was a very short foreshadowing for the skin being used to strangle the injured soldier. A similar act was repeated with the skinless body of the medic, and after that a series of brutal murders proceeded by the end of which the room was quite literally an abattoir. The Captain didn’t return to the CCN lines after this, staying deep in occupied territory leading one man terror campaign, such gruesome slaughter being his distinctive trait that gained him the moniker “Butcher”. When the war was over he finally came back to his comrades, and he was demoted to Lieutenant before promptly being returned to Captain once the full extent of his actions was discovered. It was done tentatively, but accounting for the tragedy he experienced high command was somewhat sympathetic. But in the century to come many battlefields would be scarred by the Butcher, Zion being on particular case, his actions of shoving live humans into meatgrinders for slow, painful deaths giving his name renown across all Eden quite quickly. As the Captain’s madness spiralled his actions became such that even the Councils became disgusted, demoting him to Lieutenant and more recently to Sergeant. Thus, one arrives at the modern day.




Now





“Bloody hell.”

“Yeah, I told you so. There were about two-hundred trillion cells in the bodies of my family. For every cell must die a single Fed or other bastard. It is my life mission.”

Viktor Tarau opened a link to one of the international wikis, instantly finding “The Butcher” for a quick summary of more gruesome events.

“Bloody hell.” he repeated.

“Yeah.”

“The only have little bits of you recorded, how did she know it’s you?”

The Sergeant shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s a psychic, probably something to do with that.”

Indeed, being a psychic had something to do with it. The woman had not gone to her quarters, instead just enough distance so with her powers she could still hear them but they wouldn’t know of her ethereal presence. She couldn’t so simply let all the Sergeant said just be. She sprinted past the two Legionnaires guarding the way to the command centre, coming face to face with the Captain and the Sergeant.

“You’re a fucking madman. You’re obsessed, that shit was a century ago and you’re still murdering all that time after, people unrelated to what happened to you! Do you really think your kids would be happy to know their father ran across Eden killing random people because he’s insane?”

Until the last sentence, Kjaro was apparently calm. But when the girl spoke of his children’s thoughts and wishes he roared standing from his chair, or at least trying to. At the last moment Viktor grabbed his leg to force a fall and yelled to Alyx: “Go, go to your quarters!” Then he leaned in to whisper to the Sergeant. “She’s not wrong.” and gave the man a kick before going to speak to the young psychic.

The Captain stepped in, noting the currently unfurnished nature of the room. The woman was cross legged on her bed, head in hands. “Recruit.” Viktor said, taking a seat on a chair in the room’s small study.

“I’m surprised to see you here. I would have thought they’d do training and integration longer.”

“We did it, but they had… well, they said my situation was unique, rarely are psychic migrants found they said. They told me I’d be better off with familiar faces to help me get used to it, and that my powers were best suited for conflicts anyway. I’ll have an easier time getting eased into the Noosphere with less people at the same time.”

“I see.”

“Oh, do you?” she said, rather sarcastically.

Viktor shrugged. “No, not really. I was born into the councils, my life was so easy I got bored of it and went to become a Reislaufer just to find hardship for the first time in my life. But I said that I see because I thought it might make you feel better, instead you’re being smarmy.”

“Oh please you think I’m going to respond well to being called smarmy just after you told me how great your life is?”

“Yes. Ad Hominems, and all.”

“Shut up.”

“No, I don’t think I will. I only got you into the CCN because I wanted to save my own life. But now you’re my responsibility and I have to make sure all is well with you. So, tell me all your troubles, I can listen to another sob-story after hearing out the Sergeant.”

“Alright, alright yeah I’ll tell you. I was forced out of my previous life which was horrible, but you know what? It was mine, this new life isn’t mine, I belong to the CCN now. Everyone I knew is dead, and I’m a toy of the people who did that. You want me to say thank you? No, of course you don’t you’ll have some little clever answer. My brain, it’s tuned into this damned Noosphere of your’s, everyone feels what I feel and I feel what everyone feels. This is supposed to make me closer to everyone, right? Fat chance, everyone here looks at me like trash; your damn Sergeant tried to cut me in half. I even… I can't....”
Viktor was about to ask her what it was she couldn’t do anymore, but looking at her face he could tell what she was trying to say right away. For her new bionic eyes they had to remove her tear ducts — She could no longer cry.

“Oh.” was all that he could reply.

“All that was me before, it’s gone. I just have my memories, and apparently I’m supposed to count my blessings because I was let keep those. You’re people, Captain, those Federation soldiers the Sergeant mentioned were wrong. But you’re different, too different, you’re certainly not good humans.”

“I’m sorry.” was all Viktor could offer. Alyx couldn’t cry, but she came the closest one could without tear ducts. Perhaps it was wrong what they did to her. She wasn’t even old enough to drink in much of Eden, she was just a girl, they should have just let her work for the CCN as an auxiliary and let her make the choice to become Neohuman down the line. But they couldn’t remove the cybernetics and gene treatments, it was too late now.

“I had a piercing in my stomach, like all the girls pretending to be different back in Uracao did. They didn’t even let me keep that.”

Viktor raised an eyebrow. Usually people going into processing were let keep their jewellery. He checked the roster of his crew to find Alyx Fuentes, and then opened her file. He couldn’t help but start laughing.

“What’s so funny?” she demanded, visibly hurt at the laughter.

“I’m sorry it’s just that, well, the reason they took your piercing was that they thought it was a wound that went left untreated because of the backwardness of frontier medicine.”

Slowly, she smiled and then even giggled. Viktor was glad, moving over to sit on the girl’s bed with her and giving her a sympathetic (if not quite empathetic) embrace. Maybe you’re right, maybe the soldiers were. Maybe we’re not quite humans or even people. But that can change.



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ZAVAZggg The Chronicler

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Location: Hera - UIC Space - Ralor's Bunker


The two Aelon quietly make their way through the brightly lit hallways of the bunker, swiftly eliminating any and all opposition raised up against them, be it through their rifles or telekinesis. Eventually they make their way deeper into the facility, until finally arriving at a thick blast door with an intercom directly to the right of it, next to a hand scanner. Making sure the area is secure, the pair begin to inspect the door when the sound of static followed by a loud yet deep voice echoes from the intercom, drawing their attention.

"I see you fuckers finally caught up with me," it said, the disgust in its tone plain to hear. Although it had been months since he'd fled, the two Enforcers could still remember the holovid of his trial and there was no mistaking the voice. It was Ralor. The man they'd been tasked with hunting down.

"Listen to me Ralor," Issoth began, propping himself up against the reinforced door with his free hand. "You and I both know that you don't have the resources to keep evading us forever. Eventually we'll find you, and you'll have nothing left to throw at us."

"Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I don't plan on letting you dipshits drag me back to that prison. You want me to go with you, it's gonna have to be in a body bag."

"That can be arranged," Qell remarked, drumming her fingers against the cold metal of her rifle.

Issoth glanced back at her, and she merely shrugged, though he knew she was right. They could easily kill him if they needed to, and furthermore they'd be completely within their rights as well. No government within the cluster, save for the criminally oriented ones that is, actually gave a damn about what happened to this who broke their laws. If anything, Issoth knew many officials preferred particularly troublesome lawbreakers be executed simply because of the fact that it saved them credits and resources they'd have to spend otherwise on having to keeping inmates alive in some dank cell somewhere. Still, he preferred to come back with the target alive rather than dead. It was more a matter of upholding a reputation than anything else.

Killing, after all, was easy. Capturing a heavily defended target who was also on the run without breaking so much as a sweat? Now that was far more impressive.

"Listen Ralor," Issoth went on, moving closer to the intercom. "You come back willingly and maybe we'll vouch for you. Get you a lighter sentence."

Ralor scoffed. "Has using the gates addled your mind Enforcer? Even if you did vouch for me, it wouldn't matter. It's fucking Raygon. I'll be lucky to get three years off my initial sentence with your involvement. That system they have doesn't care about the individual, and I learned that the hard way. Reason why I decided to use it to my own advantage. Look, in the end there's only one way this is going to go. Either I walk out of here alive, or you do."

Issoth paused, nodding slowly, before responding. "You sure you want it to go down this way Ralor?"

There was silence for a moment before his voice came through the intercom once more, this time accompanied by the sound of a firearm being cocked. Most likely an old kinetic variant still reliant on gunpowder or some other such explosive compound.

"Yeah," he said, his tone grim. "Hope you got a good trigger finger lawman."

Issoth couldn't help but smirk underneath his helmet. Despite the grim business they were about to get into, he couldn't help but be impressed at the man's confidence. For Ralor had been confident before shutting off the intercom. Issoth could hear it in his voice, a last minute show of cockiness in the face of certain death. Granted the bastard was scum, but at least when it came down to final stands he had some balls.

Still... that wouldn't save him.

Motioning to Qell, Issoth met her gaze for a bit as they both placed their hands flat against the door and summoned up as much telekinetic energy as they could and channeled it into the barrier, blowing the steel obstruction out of its frame. Moving in, the two engaged Ralor in a brief yet vicious firefight, before extracting his corpse and making their way back to the surface. From there the two Adjudicators returned to their ships, their target in tow, and began the long voyage back to Raygon.
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